Peter Laviolette seldom tips his hand.

President Obama's nuclear football codes are probably easier to crack than some of Laviolette's clandestine lineup decisions, from the mundane fourth-line swap-out to the starting goaltender.

General manager Paul Holmgren has been even less revealing with regard to injury, particularly with the large shroud that surrounds defenseman Chris Pronger's lengthy recovery from right hand surgery.

Holmgren says little more than that each player - whether it be Pronger, Andreas Nodl or even Nick Boynton - is day-to-day.

Yesterday was no different. There was no new announcement or breaking news about Pronger's status for tonight's series-shifting Game 5 at the Wells Fargo Center. There was, though, an interesting hypothetical question posed to Laviolette, one he reluctantly bit on:

"Can Chris Pronger play in a game in a limited role and be a factor in the game? Yes," Laviolette said.

Yes, it was a hypothetical. But using a much healthier Pronger tonight, with the best-of-seven, Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with Buffalo even at two games, might be just the trump card Laviolette has been seeking.

Pronger appears likely to make his playoff debut against the Sabres tonight. He has not addressed the media in more than a week. That did not change yesterday. But Pronger did take part in a 50-minute skate at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J., adding a new wrinkle to his rehabilitation arsenal by taking light slap shots for the first time since suffering a setback in late March.

Slap shots were about the only thing Pronger had not taken since suffering the setback. His progression began with soft passes, which gradually increased in speed and accuracy, before moving to wrist shots and snap shots.